There are a lot of blogs out there that focus on personal hardships, the emotional experience, and the kind of common neuroses that most humans are prone to, and I’ve made it a point not to get involved in such things. Which is not to say that I don’t think they have their place sometimes (The Bloggess is one of those that I follow semi-regularly,) but that it’s just not my approach, and you will rarely hear about the personal events going on in my life, and especially not the things that I dither about.
Except for one. I have occasionally mentioned this before, but not too often, I don’t think. The very nature of this neurosis is that it’s somewhat self-referential, kind of a “Am I being too paranoid?” thing.
Here’s the deal: I would like to be more popular and more recognized through my web presence. Not famous in any way, because I don’t think I’d like that, but having my images and even some of my writing published elsewhere a lot more often. Certainly to the point where I could get paid closer to a living wage for doing something that I liked, anyway. The problem is, I have no idea how to go about it.
Or maybe I do, and I’m simply not good enough to garner the attention. While I like a lot of my images, and the writing in more than a couple of posts here, this could simply be a manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger effect (PDF link,) where failing to recognize one’s shortcomings can sometimes lead to overestimating one’s abilities; people that think they did really good on a test are often incorrect about it. You see what I’m saying about neuroses now? Should I keep plugging away until I hate my own work? Somehow I don’t think that’s a viable game plan…
[I have to note here that, as I was preparing to write this post, I couldn’t remember ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’ and did a web search. The first several links that I turned up were all along the lines of “You’re smarter than you think!”, which was exactly the opposite of the search term I’d entered – but undoubtedly click-bait headlines and a lot more popular. I saved a few links for later.]
Don’t get the impression that I haven’t been trying to find the way to make this happen. I’ve gone through more than a few sources regarding gaining recognition and popularity, and have been following a certain amount of the advice provided. Now, social media long ago convinced me of its own worthlessness, and my personal experience with it merely confirmed this finding. But I’ve listened to many of the people who became known for their work before social media was even a thing, and much of this entire site is predicated on that advice. So far, it hasn’t really worked. So again, do I suck? Am I missing something subtle but damaging?
Or, is it simply a mistaken impression? You can ask a lottery winner what they did to strike it rich, but their routine or lucky numbers or faith in veganism is meaningless – it was strictly random. And for perhaps a lot of those successful people, I suspect that this is the case. Not to denigrate the accomplishments of anyone out there, because obviously their skills are maintaining their popularity and such, but there are a ridiculous number of websites to be found, and perhaps it’s just a matter of happenstance that brings attention to them and starts the ball rolling. Useful information isn’t about what happened once, but what worked for the majority of people who tried it. And who’s even tallying that number?
There then are the other aspects. A few years back I was active on both newsgroups, for photography, and a few websites devoted to critical thinking. All of my comments, where I could, were appended with a link back to my own site, with a very basic premise in mind: if I struck you with whatever I posted there, you would be able to find more by following the link. Low-key, admittedly, but respectful and not at all intrusive. And truth be told, occasionally it worked, as I could tell from the site statistics.
But then a few things happened. Newsgroups died, partially from internet providers halting free access to the servers, requiring users to pay outside sources. And partially from human nature, becoming the playground of the socially incompetent (which is what makes social media the hypocritical joke that it is.) More and more sites, unable to figure out a few simple rules for commenting or not bothering to devote any time or money to moderation, abolished their commenting systems. And, interest in the kind of sites that I frequented just died out – which I can’t disparage, given how few I’m visiting myself anymore. So I am no longer actively drawing attention to this site, and have no good method of reinstating this either.
Smutphones, of course, deserve their own recognition here, since the tiny screens and the brief periods of time which can be devoted to them makes them the worst possible way to view a site like mine, which has a lot to do with why I spend no time accommodating them (the remainder is simply because they’re stupid.) Too many people virtually abandoned their desktop or laptop computers in favor of their phones, and so every site with content above the level of memes suffered, I’m sure.
Perhaps I was too late, starting blogging well after it became popular and missing the heyday when there were fewer, and could thus gain more attention – now, I think the general reaction is, “Oh, you’re blogging too? Cute.” The same may be said for podcasting and my forays into video, though the former is admittedly not aimed at serious public attention, and the latter even less so – video is a function of showing what still photos may miss, and so no, I won’t have a ‘channel’ any time soon, if ever. Meanwhile, the blog remains someplace to examine the subjects and approaches that make up my nature photography, as well as some philosophical musings, with a minimal dose of minutia and superficiality. [Clears throat, whistles in the dark…]
Then comes personality, perhaps. I have recognized, at times past, that I should be ‘networking’ more, making more connections with people in related fields to expand my opportunities and options – and this has never worked. In some cases it was notably a matter of bad luck, getting involved with people or organizations that had a negative effect, bad reputations, or just too few outside connections. But I’m also not a ‘people person,’ not exactly a networker to begin with – not really asocial, but I have no desire to seek out interactions with others most times, and while I can get along just fine with most people, I’m fairly straightforward and perhaps just don’t quite make the connections that I should. Is this contributing to my lack of success in this endeavor, or only a trivial factor? I have no way of knowing. Hopefully it’s not a serious hindrance, because it isn’t something that I could change easily, if at all.
And finally, I find the vast majority of marketing to be utter horseshit, in most cases condescending or pandering, and never want to be involved in anything of the sort. The fact that some of it might work better than what I’m presently doing doesn’t matter; it’s still bullshit that isn’t me. In which case, perhaps, I’m getting what I deserve.
Now I admit that I can’t even read this and not hear, someplace in the background, a plea for attention, trolling for compliments, but that’s not at all what I’m up to. I just wonder sometimes if I should be going about things differently, and if so, how? There is certainly no shortage of sources that want to answer this question, often at a fee – and no way to determine which ones aren’t simply full of shit.
Again, all of this might sound a bit neurotic, and probably is to a degree, but obviously I want something to improve here, and all advice has it that I have to work hard and make it happen, which I’m not arguing with at all. I’m just trying to determine how to make it happen – what works, and what doesn’t? What do I need to be changing? Or is it still mostly up to the whims of fate?